‘Purgatory Pub: Book 1’ - Graphic Novel Review

Sometimes . . . you want to go where everybody knows your name. Gabriel Dunston paints a picture of such a place in Purgatory Pub: Book 1, capturing the unlikely, and yet hysterically charming, friendship of a little devil and angel in the afterlife. In one night, we watch as their mission to share a brewski after a long day at the “office” (commiserating over failed human conversion attempts) turns into an epic adventure. In the end, they may have discovered more than they wanted to know about the other and ended up only needing more alcohol. Purgatory Pub: Book 1 will make you laugh until you cry, and then pause . . . to think.

Dunston is able to broach the subject of religion using clever and witty concepts and still make the dialogue sound like two guys having a beer, eating chips and watching a game. The banter is always casual with no animosity or name calling; that is what makes it so unique and successful. These two guys aren’t just two guys; it’s an angel and a devil, and they are disagreeing. At times, the devil is, of course, being snarky, but what is so amazing is Dunston plays each character unexpectedly. The devil is snarky, but adorably so. He has a sweet nature to him and gets excited about his projects. I found myself wanting to hug him. The angel is like the stoner, hippie guy with lofty notions, who berates every single organized religion on how they make his job harder by teaching religion incorrectly amongst other things. He also just likes to make fun of them. Images of an angel and a scruffy, overweight devil playing pool with beer in one hand and a cigar in the other bring to mind Jay and Silent Bob without all of the profanity and sex. Theirs is a similar symbiotic relationship, one ripe with comic material and heart.

The artwork is black and white aside from the cover and helps to lay focus on the storyline and text blocks. This was a strong choice that helped to delineate the descriptions between the two worlds. Dunston uses bold and dark shadowing for the facial expressions and depictions of the dilapidation of the underworld in contrast to the pearly white gates of the “gated communities.” Although, in fairness, there was a disagreement between the two characters as to whether or not it was gated. I personally saw a gate drawn . . . but I did not draw it, so I remain neutral on the matter. Whatever I saw . . . it was beautiful.

My only qualm with Purgatory Pub: Book 1 is that the story felt unfinished. The jump to Lucifer’s story at the end was a little rushed and needed more set up; however, the final moment, which shall remain a secret, was spot on. Hopefully, this storyline will continue. It is not just that this story is not finished, these characters have so many more beers to drink and so many more humans to corrupt. I wonder if our little devil will join the gated community or maybe they will strike out on their own - so many possibilities. What excites me is this is just the beginning. I look forward to seeing what twisted and endearing shenanigans Gabriel Dunston has in store for this quirky duo.

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